kawan kawan, for those of you who’ve been following me, you’ve realized that I’ve been out of commission for a bit… it was not because I’ve abandoned you or the blog – I would never do that. 🙂 It was due more to the shortage of time that I’ve not been blogging of late. But the dust of La Rentrée has just about settled. I’ve ja-ust about got the girls and me back to our daily routine of school runs, homework, violin practice and all the little things that keep me from finding the right moment to blog. But I am back again, no worries because part of my daily routine is to find the time for myself, non?!?
I’ve been active again at L’atelier des chefs. It is wonderful to catch up with Debbie K and Mrs M, my usual partners at French cookery school. On this occasion, Silva D came along too. She’d been wanting to join L’atelier for quite some time but just haven’t managed to find the right time to do so. What propelled her this time round to find a slot in her busy schedule was this: she will be leaving us for Milan, her hometown, shortly and she really wanted to profiter from a L’atelier class. So, voilâ, here we all were to learn how to cook quenelles de cabillaud. I’ve never cooked this dish before so I was very excited to learn.
Basically quenelles are tear drop shaped pieces of minced meat or fish, in this case, poached in milk or water until done. Some would call it egg shaped. In any case, it is not so much the shape but the preparation and cooking process that make a quenelle a quenelle. The binding factor is egg white which is added to the fish and cream to be blended until smooth. Lyon and Nantua are two places famous for their pike quenelle usually served with a creamy sauce. Pike is a fish with many small bones so the best way to cook this fish without the hassle of removing the bones whilst you are eating it is to churn it in a blender before cooking. Of course, if you were a “real” chef, you would use a tamis, a cylindrical sieve invented in the Middle Ages to strain, grate and mill food.
A tamis sifts and grates ingredients finer than any other utensil, and the texture of the strained material is evenly consistent. Modern kitchens have blenders or Magimixes which does the same job with a push of the button.
Quenelles are very easy to eat, kawan kawan. It hardly needs chewing since it is so finely blended and poached just right that all you need to do is shuffle spoonfuls into your mouth and swallow. Watch how a toddler with no teeth eats and you’ll see what I mean. The quenelle is really posh baby food with a lot of flavour.
After chopping, blending and poaching, it was time to serve up. We were shown how to dress the plate with the quenelle sitting atop a bed of sauce de champignons. The mushrooms were stir fried in a little olive oil with one minced shallot and a whole clove of garlic still in its peel, then blended with a little cream and some milk used to poach the cod.
The experience was…how shall I put it?…. interesting, I suppose. I haven’t made pureed baby food in a while, considering that RN who is now 5 had stopped eating purées since she was 7 months old. The only mush I make in the house in mash and even that, RN doesn’t fancy too much….strange child, I know 🙂
The quenelles tasted delicious for the amount of cream and salt that went into it albeit a little bland. I would have preferred it made with spices like turmeric, chilli and curry powder, mixed with coconut milk instead of thick cream, then steamed wrapped up in a banana leaf or stuffed in aforementioned banana leaf and grilled (see photo below). This would fire the fish up a bit, multiply its flavour by a 100 percent and transform the quenelle magically into an otak otak, a fish mousse widely eaten in SE Asia.
Unless you have a baby who eats spices at 6 months, this is highly NOT recommended as baby food, posh as it also is.
I would go for the quenelle in this case. Seriously, if I knew of this recipe when I was weaning my girls, I.would.have.made.it, served with champignon sauce over a bed of rice porridge. If I had done that, perhaps SS would just adore mushrooms now and I wouldn’t have to pick out any mushrooms that she can see thrown surreptitiously into her food or avoid the mushroom section altogether, because why bother? no one
accept except the Italian and I eat those fun-guys anyway!
Try kawan kawan this recipe for quenelle. Just follow the link above. If I were to make it again, I would jazz it up with a little more herbs and spices, although not chillies, since the girls don’t like spicy stuff (I know, I know, and they are half Singaporean and don’t eat spice nor speak Mandarin. I’ve been through all that with the Mother!) Let me know how it turns out. Bon apétit!